Crashes mar early going in Tour of Flanders

Early crashes took out some big names in the early going at Flanders as cloudy skies and windy conditions made for nervous racing

OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — Dozens of crashes marred a nervous first half of racing in Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).

While none of the top favorites was involved, a few big names were caught up in spills in the early going under cloudy skies and windy conditions that made for nervous racing.

Last year’s third-place finisher Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) and 2011 Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp) both crashed out.

Van Summeren crashed into a spectator, and was transported to a local hospital for observation. Early prognosis suggested no serious injuries, but it was still too early to see if he can race next Sunday’s Roubaix.

Belgian television reported that the fan was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), second at Three Days of De Panne, crashed out with a suspected broken collarbone.

Trek Factory Racing’s Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast and Stijn Devolder, all important helpers for favorite Fabian Cancellara, were all involved in pileups.

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) steered clear of the nerves of the main pack by riding into the day’s main breakaway, riding at the front in his Flanders debut.